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COVID-19 Briefing - Friday, 2/5

The Big Game, Vaccines and Pregnancy, and More.

Today's Recap:

Best Questions:

Will you test positive for COVID after getting vaccinated?

Nope. The vaccine doesn’t use any live virus, regardless of which brand of vaccination you get. If you do test positive after getting vaccinated, it means you likely got exposed to COVID before your vaccination or before it kicked in to give you protection. You might test positive on an antibody (serology) test after vaccination because it’s checking for protection against the virus, not for active infection. That’s a good thing, because the point of getting the vaccine is getting those antibodies to fight infection! 

Is it safe for pregnant women to get vaccinated? What’s all this we’re hearing about infertility?

To be clear: There is no evidence that the vaccine is unsafe for pregnant women or women who want to get pregnant. The issue at hand is that the vaccine trials did not study the vaccine in pregnant women, so we just don’t have data on that demographic. There is absolutely no evidence that any of the COVID vaccines cause infertility. 

Will pregnant women need a note from their doctors to get vaccinated? We’re hearing some are being turned away.

No, pregnant women do not and should not need a note from a doctor to get vaccinated. We’ve heard that some pregnant women are getting turned away, too, and it’s concerning. A huge group of medical associations, led by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, came out with guidance on this yesterday. It says that “pregnant individuals who otherwise meet the criteria for COVID-19 vaccines should not be denied the opportunity to be vaccinated, should they choose to do so.” It goes on to clarify that “although a conversation with a clinician may be helpful for patients to aid in their decision-making, it should not be required prior to vaccination.”

Should we accept results from at-home COVID tests?  

Short answer is....kind of? If it’s an FDA-approved test AND there’s a patient name associated with that test, we’d consider a positive pretty likely to be accurate and would want to act accordingly.

There are a few issues with these at-home tests.  Many of them look like pregnancy tests, and don’t have anything to link them with a specific person. This has tough implications for things like COVID pay or for the 90 day window of “immunity” after a positive COVID result, because it’s really just trusting them that the result they showed is their own. 

Then there’s the problem of accuracy. The Ellume test, just approved for emergency use by the FDA, has a really high rate of false positives - in an area with a lot of COVID, 37 out of 100 tests will be false positives, and that number of false positives skyrockets if COVID rates are lower in the area. Likewise, it’s not very effective for asymptomatic people and is much more likely to return a false negative test if you have no symptoms. 

Ultimately, our recommendation if someone tests positive on an at-home antigen (rapid) test is for them to follow up with a much more sensitive PCR test in addition, and to assume that any negative results may be false.

Best Read:

We had two really good resources for you today so you’re getting a Best Read and a Best Watch!

A virologist, a psychologist and a public health expert walk into a bar. These are the everyday COVID mistakes they noticed.

Best Watch:

This is a great interview from MSNBC with Bill Gates. He warns that the next pandemic is coming - and talks about what we can do to stop it.

Best Laugh:

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Disclaimer: This post is meant for general information and educational purposes only and does not constitute, and is not intended as, any form of medical, legal or regulatory advice or a recommendation or suggestion regarding the same.  No recipient of this information should act or refrain from acting on the basis of this information without first seeking legal advice from counsel in the relevant jurisdiction.